The national department of health has temporarily halted the vaccination of pregnant and breastfeeding mothers with the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) jab while it investigates the possibility of potential side-effects.
This was revealed by health minister Zweli Mkhize on Wednesday when he briefed parliament’s portfolio on health about the latest developments regarding the J&J clinical trials, vaccine procurement and progress in the vaccination rollout programme.
“We have received a warning that we should not extend the J&J vaccine to pregnant women and women who are lactating (breastfeeding). This is a temporary measure until such time we have concrete information from scientists to say what we need to look out for in this case. We hope that information will come in fairly soon,” said Mkhize.
“I have also asked our ministerial advisory committee (MAC), the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, and the SA Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) to debate the matter so we have a common viewpoint in terms of approaching this area.”
Mkhize said scientists were debating whether the pause was necessary.
“I believe we shouldn’t be alarmed about it, but we need to be updated as soon as there is new information.”
Mkhize’s appearance in parliament coincides with the resumption of inoculations with the J&J vaccine after they were halted two weeks ago pending further investigation.